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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Phoenix Suns Preview

The Suns are 0-2 against Portland this season.

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Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images

Phoenix Suns (16-28) at Portland Trail Blazers (22-21)

Tuesday, January 16th - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Shabazz Napier (questionable)
Suns injuries: Marquese Chriss (questionable), T.J. Warren (questionable), Alan Williams (out), Brandon Knight (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Bright Side of the Sun

After dropping three straight games on the road, the Portland Trail Blazers look for a little home-cooking as they try to get back on track against the Phoenix Suns.

While the Blazers’ improved defense has been slipping as of late, allowing an average of 120 points per game over their last three games, the Suns feature one of the more anemic offenses in the NBA, ranking 27th in Offensive Rating. To add insult to injury, the Suns may be without T.J. Warren, the team’s second-leading scorer at more than 19 points per game.

What to Watch For

Can the Blazers keep up on the boards? While the Blazers have spent most of the season in the top five of the NBA in terms of rebounding, they’ve seen a bit of slippage lately. While the Suns struggle at most fundamental aspects of the game, they are the best rebounding team in the NBA, settling in the top 10 for both offensive and defensive rebounds.

Devin Booker vs. CJ McCollum. This is a match up of two of the premier young scoring guards in the NBA. Booker, 21, is averaging nearly 25 points per game and is capable of getting scorching hot at any time and scoring from virtually anywhere on the court. Look for some exciting 1-on-1 play between these two.

Portland needs to move the ball. While the Blazers rank dead last in assists among NBA teams, the Suns feature very few active or motivated defenders outside of Tyson Chandler. Crisp passing and active ball movement is a surefire way to get the Suns in a hole.

What They’re Saying

Brandon Klean from Bright Side of the Sun talks about a small change that has paid big dividends for Devin Booker:

Since beating Oklahoma City, arguably their best win of the season, the Suns have lost back-to-back games by a combined 40 points. And in those defeats — to Houston (minus James Harden) and Indiana — the Suns have trailed by as many as 27 and 33 points, respectively.

In other words, defensively, the Suns have slipped.

Guard Devin Booker pointed to a lack of energy in the Pacers game.

“I think we get so caught up on game-plan this and that instead of just going out there and playing with energy; and realize if we’re playing hard, that that’s the best way we look,” he said, before joining his teammates for a flight to Portland, where the Suns will play the Trail Blazers on Tuesday.

Scott Bordow of AZ Central tells us how Jay Triano has gotten through to rookie Josh Jackson:

“I said, ‘I’m losing confidence in keeping you on the floor,’ ” Triano told Jackson.

Triano followed up by benching Jackson for the entire game against Atlanta, the first time in Jackson’s career that he had been a DNP-CD.

“It was kind of hard to take in,” Jackson said. “I kind of really didn’t understand what he was saying.”

Then Jackson was given the raw numbers showing that the Suns were a better team when he wasn’t on the floor. Heading into the Atlanta game, Phoenix’s offensive rating was 97.4 with Jackson on the court and 106.7 without him. The defensive rating was 111.3 with Jackson and 106.6 without him.

“That definitely surprised me,” Jackson said.

Triano knew Jackson could handle the criticism – “I think all our guys can take it. That’s one of the things I like about our guys. They accept coaching,” he said – but just to make sure, he also moved the conversation forward, asking Jackson how the coaching staff could rebuild its confidence in him.

Jackson suggested he and Triano watch video together.

“Just to see what he sees,” Jackson said. “Sometimes, two people look at the same play and see two totally different things. He has a basketball mind and he’s really smart, so just trying to see what he sees and trying to pick his brain a little bit.”

Jackson said he wanted to approach Triano earlier in the season about spending quality time watching video, but, “I didn’t really think I could just go up to him and have that type of conversation with him.”

That’s all changed.

Kellen Olson at AZ Sports discusses why center Alex Len isn’t a classic “sell high” candidate at the trade deadline:

The question is what the Suns could get in return for Len to have a deal make sense. The expectation surrounding Monroe is that he will be gone once the trade deadline passes, so the Suns would need a center to be ready for a large load of minutes.

Len is the de-facto guy at the moment.

An exchange of Len for draft picks wouldn’t make sense with the Suns’ collection of them already overflowing. They have all of their own picks, two first-round picks from Miami, an additional first from Milwaukee and second from Toronto.

Unless the Suns find a can’t-miss deal that Len would approve while also having another player in mind to split minutes with Chandler, trading Len doesn’t make much sense, especially if Phoenix wants to bring him back next season.